Scaling a service business: Top tips
Service businesses are easy to get going but notoriously tough to grow. Since there is no need to develop a product, bring it to market, and take on a world of global competition, you can focus on tangible needs, like providing skills and services that people in your area want and need.
If it's all about you, it's easy enough to get it going. You can expand and grow at a pace that is in-line with your desire to work, hire help when you need it, and have total control over your destiny. But what happens when you're a decade or two in and don't want to work so hard anymore?
Selling or succeeding your business is challenging if your business model relies on you for every little thing. It's your expertise, your connections, and your approach that makes it all work, so it is basically worthless if you're not in the equation.
But there are only so many hours in a day. This small, undeniable, but substantial point is the one thing that is going to get in the way of you selling and moving on. If you plan to retire, pass the company along to your children, or if you just want to take a step back and not work so hard, you have to scale up.
Developing a Scaling-Up Mindset
While some people might think that scaling up is counter-intuitive (why build up something that you're going to step away from), it is truly the only reliable way to build enough value to sell.
If you want your years of sweat equity to count for something, you have to develop a scaling-up mindset. Here's how you're going to do it.
Make Manager Training a Priority
Make it a number-one priority to train and mentor your management to do what you do. Short of doing so, you will always be limited by what you, one person, can accomplish in a single day.
If you don't have management, per se—meaning there is nobody other than you who can do everything that needs to be done—this should be job number one. You don't have to let go of the reins completely, but a second-in-command is essential to building a strong second-tier support team.
The benefits of having strong second-tier management are significant:
Processes and policies are carried out the way you envision them. You have established a strong brand and modus operandi – something your customers show appreciation for in repeat business and referrals. When your management is trained to approach business the way you would do things, you can have some peace of mind knowing that you don't have to micro-manage every detail.
Your brand remains strong in the face of any unforeseen changes. It's easy to get discouraged in the face of new competition or changes in your industry, but your second-tier management team has your back and will help you stay on track.
You can have a life outside of work. How many of life's milestones have you missed because of work? Whether it's a demanding customer, challenging deadlines, or racing the clock to get your taxes filed on time, I'll wager there's more than a few precious moments you've missed along the way. Knowing your business is well-in-hand allows you to step away and enjoy what life is really all about.
Your company can expand and grow the bottom line. When it's only you behind the eight-ball, there's no place to go. If you need to make more money, there are only a few ways to do it: raise your prices, add services, or scale up. Your income, if it's wholly dependent on you, has a ceiling. Once you've reached that level, if you're not willing to do what it takes to scale up, you're done.
You will have access to diverse and innovative thinking. Bringing in new management gives you access to experience and expertise you do not have. While you might be an expert in your field, there are always ways to enhance your value, and this is one. Whether it's about embracing new technology, implementing new efficiencies, mastering new equipment, or simply approaching your marketing in new and innovative ways, there is strength in numbers.
Outsource Critical Business Functions
Once the milieu of the enterprise, outsourcing is an accessible approach for many critical business functions. Identify areas where outsourcing will drive value and migrate some of your systems off your already-cluttered desk.
Some commonly outsourced business functions include:
- Bookkeeping and Accounting. There are a couple of ways you can approach this. You could find a bookkeeper locally and hand over your financial tasks to them, or you could take a tech-focused approach. Remote accounting and bookkeeping deliver excellent value in that many remote firms offer high-level advice and services for a set monthly fee.
- Management Platform-as-a-Service. Investing in industry-specific business management software is incredibly smart. By leveraging today's highly intelligent and secure software technology, it is possible to drive efficiency, cost savings, and customer service from a single solution. While it's not “exactly” outsourcing, you are relinquishing some of your daily processes because they will be largely automated. Automation reduces errors, minimizes the time you generally take to accomplish certain tasks, drives cost efficiencies, and puts you in a good position to scale up.
For example, in the construction industry, there are now integrated platforms that help you manage your estimates, drawings, permits, inspections, jobs sites, punch lists, crews, subcontractors, and customer communication – all from one central, cloud-based platform.
A solution like this simplifies and consolidates all your essential business processes, reducing the time, complexities, and errors inherent in the construction business. With the ability to manage multiple job sites in the same time it takes to maintain one in the traditional sense, growth and scale are not only assured, they are a breeze.
Other areas in which you could outsource include:
- Copy writing
- Customer service
- Human resources and staffing
- Facilities management
- Legal services
- Business development
- Leadership development
Do a little research to learn what outsourcing solutions are available for your niche and begin your digital transformation.
Are you ready to scale up your service business? Schedule a conversation, and let's talk about next steps.
For a more in depth read, check out https://projectmanagernews.com/tools/online-construction-project-management-software/